Alameda Co. sergeant plays Taylor Swift song to keep protesters' video from going on YouTube

Internal affairs is investigating the case.

ByMelanie Woodrow KGO logo
Friday, July 2, 2021
Bay Area sergeant uses T-Swift song to keep video off YouTube
An Alameda County Sheriff's sergeant is accused of playing a Taylor Swift song to stop protesters from posting a video they were filming to YouTube.

ALAMEDA COUNTY, Calif. (KGO) -- An Alameda County Sheriff's Office Sergeant is being investigated by Internal Affairs after he played a Taylor Swift song on his cellphone, in an attempt to keep protesters who were filming him from posting the video to YouTube.

Members of the Justice for Steven Taylor coalition and Anti Police Terror Project were outside the steps of Oakland's courthouse Tuesday when they filmed the interaction with Sergeant Shelby of the Alameda County Sheriff's Office.

They were there listening over an outdoor speaker to the pre-trial hearing of San Leandro Police Officer Jason Fletcher, who is facing voluntary manslaughter charges for killing Taylor in a Walmart last year.

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An Anti Police Terror Project member began filming Policy Director James Burch with Sergeant Shelby.

Burch says Shelby took issue with a banner Taylor's supporters had placed on the steps outside court.

"We film interactions with law enforcement for our protection," said Burch.

Shelby took out his cellphone as well, but instead of hitting record, he hit play.

"Are we having a dance party," Burch says in the video.

"Are you playing pop music to drown out the conversation," another ATPT member says in the video.

"I think it's 'Blank Space' is the name of the song," Burch told the ABC7 News I-TEAM.

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Alameda County has placed three officers on leave Wednesday after body camera footage released this week shows them kneeing a man to the ground moments before he died.

The song is by Taylor Swift

The purpose?

"You can record all you want I just know it can't be posted on YouTube," Sgt. Shelby says in the video.

"Is this procedure for the Alameda County Sheriff's Department?" Burch asks.

"It's not specifically outlined," Shelby says in the video.

"I'm playing my music so that you can't post it on YouTube," he later says again.

"We want people to see our interactions with law enforcement so we can show what is really going on and it's very telling that these law enforcement officers seem to want the opposite," Burch told the I-TEAM.

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An Alameda County Sheriff's Office Spokesperson says the matter has now been referred to internal affairs for a possible code of conduct violation.

"I think everybody agrees that that's not a good look for law enforcement and for our agency in regards to what looks like an attempt to censor YouTube content by triggering a copyright algorithm or alert," said Sgt. Ray Kelly of the Alameda County Sheriff's Office.

Sergeant Kelly says training will go out by week's end.

"Everyone will be briefed that this is not procedure, we don't do this," said Sgt. Kelly.

"I hadn't seen anything like this before but again we are trained to do our best to expect the unexpected from law enforcement and so this is just another instance of that," Burch told the I-TEAM.